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New “love jihad” laws make it even harder for interfaith couples to follow their hearts

The course of true love never did run smooth – particularly when it comes to Hindu-Muslim relationships

New “love jihad” laws make it even harder for interfaith couples to follow their hearts

The course of true love never did run smooth – particularly when it comes to Hindu-Muslim relationships

New “love jihad” laws make it even harder for interfaith couples to follow their hearts

The course of true love never did run smooth – particularly when it comes to Hindu-Muslim relationships

New “love jihad” laws make it even harder for interfaith couples to follow their hearts

The course of true love never did run smooth – particularly when it comes to Hindu-Muslim relationships

India is a country of many faiths, and since the early days of independence the law has allowed couples from different religions to marry.

Kiron and Vinita met during Holi in 1979. Kiron is a Hindu; Vinita is Roman Catholic. As soon as their families found out about their relationship, they did everything they could to stop the couple seeing each other. Yet they followed their hearts, and finally married – against their parents’ wishes – in a Christian church ceremony followed by a Hindu wedding party.

It’s a love story with a happy ending: it took both families a few years to come round, but eventually they embraced the couple. Kiron and Vinita have now been happily married for 36 years, and are grandparents. The family celebrates both Christmas and Diwali. They have never found it a problem to allow each other space to follow their own faiths - Kiron drops his wife off at church every Sunday – and their children were brought up in both traditions.

Sabrina, a Bangladeshi Muslim, and Rahul, a Hindu from Delhi, met in 2005 when they were both law students in Bangalore. It was love at first sight. Their parents were initially worried about the reaction of their wider families, but otherwise accepted the match.

Now, married for seven years, their religious differences have never been an issue for them, despite the questions they often get asked by officials. Instead, Rahul says that “the only two things that cause marital friction are disagreements over food (my palate is staunchly Punjabi and hers is Bengali ) and any time India plays Bangladesh in cricket.”

These are just two of the hundreds of mixed faith couples who have shared their story for the India Love Project. The first story on the Instagram page comes from the project’s founder, Niloufer Venkatraman, and it’s a picture of her father, a Hindu Brahmin, and her mother, a Parsi. They named their children in ways that reflect both identities, and throughout their 31-year-marriage each followed their own religious practices and supported other interfaith marriages. Niloufer herself grew up to marry a Christian, and they welcomed him into the family.

The online project seeks to show that interfaith marriages can be successful, full of joy and love, at a time when much of the political rhetoric suggests that they’re a recipe for disaster – even a threat to national security.

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